Community members mourn the passing of local homeless advocate Arlene Rosenthal

October 18

Members of the community are mourning the death of Arlene Rosenthal, who led efforts at homeless services provider Well in the Desert as its president for the past 21 years.

Facebook post by Joy Meredith, Crystal Fantasy

Joy Meredith, the owner and operator of Crystal Fantasy in downtown Palm Springs, wrote on Facebook “Just heard the sad news that Arlene Rosenthal, my friend, warrior, and voice of the unheard, has passed away. What a loss to the community and world.”

Rosenthal graduated from UCLA with a degree in English literature and later received her teaching credential from UC Berkley. After landing in the desert in 1973, she wrote on the organization’s website, “My spirit of community stuck and I found myself involved in social change and working in organizations where I could help to bring that about for those who were unable to advocate for themselves.

Rosenthal began as a board member at Well in the Desert and later was elected president. She has also served on a number of other local boards, including Stroke Activities Center, Mizell Center, Desert Aids Foundation, and Opera Guild, helping to create Opera under the Stars. 

In a press release, current Well in the Desert president Matthew Naylor announced that in Rosenthal’s honor, a musical “Off The Street” was written to share the story of  the homeless on the street.

There will be 10 performances from Nov. 6-22 at the new Revolution Stage Company, with a fundraiser for the Well In the Desert and to celebrate Arlenes life on Nov. 18. Tickets can be purchased here.

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October 17

Rosenthal died at the age of 79, her family announced on Tuesday. The cause of her death was not made public.

Rosenthal was the former president of Well in the Desert, a non-profit that provides food and services to those in need, including those affected by poverty, seniors, veterans, disabled individuals, and more.

Rosenthal said “Well In The Desert is the voice for those homeless and less fortunate that don’t have one. 

She retired from her position in July after 21 years.

“I had never met anyone or worked for anyone as passionate as Arlene about humanity. She was tough as nails on the surface yet inside just a big softy with a great personality & a lot of wit. She was the epitome of what caring is all about. I will never forget all she taught me. She touched countless hearts & will be dearly missed by so many.
I will never forget you!
Love you always Arlene 🥰 RIP”

– Comment on Well in the Desert Facebook page

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